I wrote back in January about Bradford CoderDojo returning. Since the start of the year we have run a dojo every month, generously hosted at the Innovation Centre and supported by the mentors who give their time up.

Every month so far we have had all 30 places taken, and we have been running a waiting list. There is a strong need for the Dojo in the area.

Despite Bradford City playing in the third division play-off final and it being a lovely morning weather-wise, we had a decent turn out this morning.

In recent months, we have run the Dojo over three rooms, each room run by different mentors:

  • Shi and Kriss making games, which Shi has blogged about in March here and earlier this month here.

  • Paul getting the attendees to play with bits of kit like the micro:bit.

  • Jonny and I making websites.

I chose websites as it’s something just about anyone with a computer can do – and the web is something most people use most days in a lot of really interesting ways. A web browser and a text editing tool (like Notepad on a Windows machine) is all you need to get learning coding for the web. It’s also how many of us learned to code web pages!

HTML is also a simple enough language to start with – and when some basic HTML doesn’t work nothing bad happens. It’s a lovely safe language for young people to work with.

HTML is also a “spine language”. We can get some HTML down, and then move on to use other languages to work with it, such as CSS, Javascript, Python, and Jekyll.

To start with we have taught some proper HTML basics and allowed the students to use some off-the-top-of-the-head words to show their code works.

All our students have these basics down and as mentors we are enjoying seeing where they go.

Our young coders are now looking at more detailed web pages, many looking to link many pages together. Quizzes are popular amongst our coders.

As their work grows our students are really having to think about the content they need and how users of their web pages will interact. This means there has had to be some thinking and planning. Knowing what you want to make is as important as actually making! Planning can be simple though. I have been trying to encourage our students to sketch their ideas loosely on paper. And sometimes the adults like to get involved too!

One student used her first piece of Javascript, learning about web browser history and how a little bit of code can take a user one page back in their browser history. This means she only needed one Wrong Answer page rather than lots of Wrong Answer pages!

Next month we are going to put some of the work online, which a few of the students are excited by!

Last month we brought back the show and tells. With the three rooms it gives all our attendees a chance to see what has gone on across the morning.

The show and tells get across quickly there a lot of ways you can get into coding, and the awesome work our students do in just a couple of hours. The openness and honesty of the young people who share their work is amazing. They all feel they have made progress, and sometimes tell us when things were harder and slower than they wanted.

We are always looking for more young people to come along, as well as mentors. If you are interested, there is more information at the Bradford CoderDojo website. Feel free to get in touch if you want to know more.

Original source – Simon Wilson

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